'The Looks Or The Lifestyle', the new album from POP WILL EAT ITSELF, is stuffed with reflections on the seamier side of human behaviour.
"This," says Graham, "is where we get in deep shit with our girlfriends. All those vague lyrics we though we could get away with... I'll just have to attribute them to Clint."
"I suppose it depends on your terminology," Clint argues. "What's seedy and vice-like to one person might be square and ordinary to..."
"... Frank Bough," laughs Richard.
"He's probably gone right back to his Miss Whiplash," Graham reckons, "whimpering, 'Look what I've done! Punish me!'"
"One's too many, ten's not enough -- Welcome to Hell!"
- Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me, Kill Me
Ante-Margaritas: What's the worst thing about getting drunk? "Getting sober." Fuzz, the Poppie's recently acquired drummer, is not in a contemplative mood. Graham, Richard, and Clint, at this stage of the evening, are. "You get into a situation where you're doing it but not enjoying it," muses Clint. "It's that old clich?, about drinking to forget. Except you don't really forget anything, except for what you've done while you were drinking. The blackouts are the worst thing. You could have butchered the cabbie on the way home for all you know."
"Yeah, how do you explain that head in your bag the next day?" asks Graham. "Paranoia's the worst thing for me -- you're avoiding people you know, you can't even talk to your folks, and your self-confidence is crumbling by the second." Post-Margaritas: One Mexican meal and several pitchers of tequila and time later, I seem to have forgotten the question.
"In 1991, got glassed, cousin got murdered, friend got attacked, house next door got ransacked again"
- Harry Dean Stanton
AM: All this is true. Clint didn't have such a good year. Some of it, not surprisingly, he doesn't want to talk about. "I got belted from behind in a curry house in Stourbridge, and my face went into my glass. The best bit was, the restaurant owners threw me out. Here I was, sliced open, covered in blood, and this 35-year-old redneck Neanderthal was left to order another bottle of wine or whatever." Did you ever find out why he did it? "I didn't stop to ask."
"Everyone dreams of violence," Graham asserts. "If you're walking down the high street, and there's this old woman taking up the whole pavement with her shopping, you basically want to boot her out of the way."
Fuzz: "I don't."
Richard: "Me, neither."
Clint: "Nor me."
"Well, I know I do. But you curb it, you know you'd never get away with it." Graham then launches into childhood memories of fleeing from knife-wielding skinheads while pushing a non-starting scooter. For some reason, talk turns to Morrissey. Graham has worked out a theory: "He was just working his way through Sixties icons, and ended up at skinheads. Maybe he just likes the idea of big, strong guys with tattoos. I mean, fair go, nothing wrong with that."
PM: Graham is in a fighting mood. He is after the blood of a certain Maker scribe who, he says, referred to him in print apropos of nothing as, "that c*** Graham Poppie". "I'd give him a good twatting if he was here right now. You can't f***ing do that!" Fortunately, said hack (whose surname rhymes with "due", mystery fans) is a few thousand miles away, and in little immediate danger.
"What we did to him last time was better," says Richard. "We all went up to him and he was petrified. Then we started hugging and kissing him, all of us. He was totally freaked out." Well, it doesn't happen to him a whole lot.
"Bad trip? Tough shit! That's what you get when you think with your dick."
- Token Drug Song
AM: Clint owns up: "I don't mind talking about this, because I was being a f***ing twat, really pathetic. There I was, thinking I was big and clever, trying to get off with a young lady. I got myself in a right two-and-eight, involved myself in what she had to offer -- which was acid -- at four in the morning after we'd been drinking all night. I turned in on myself, and it started eating me. I was a gibbering wreck. I'm not going to do it again." Richard takes up the sorry tale: "He was in full Syd Barrett mode, bumbling about and crying. He had to sit at the back of the tour bus for hours, with the sound man holding his hand."
"The first time we went to Glastonbury," Graham recalls, "we kept buying dud blotters. We must have chewed our way through thirty bits of cornflakes packets at two quid a time. I remember taking a real one at three am, before taping 'Top Of The Pops'..." Why doesn't this surprise me? "... but when drugs are glamourised, people start thinking it's a competition, a league table. If somebody thinks that taking drugs is smart, why not just play them the new Happy Mondays' record and say, 'This is what happens when you do drugs, kids'?"
Clint: "It's just pathetic how low you'll stoop to try and get laid. I suppose your dick has two purposes in life, and it gets fed up doing just the one of them all the time -- it wants a bit of variety."
"Yeah," says Fuzz. "I like to go for a piss every now and again." Fuzz is a drummer, by the way.
PM: Two comprehensively pierced young women turn up at the restaurant. One regales us with tales of a two-hour, speed-fuelled, one-man-at-each-end sexual marathon in a van at the Reading Festival car park; the other explains, more plausibly, how a ring through her clitoris hood ("not the clitoris itself, like they said in another magazine") has enhanced her sex life. It's around this stage that Richard tries to talk me into taking him and his hooped and studded friend to Brighton for a threesome, and I start examining the bottom of my glass for evidence of spiking.
"I've been faking this for hours."
- Always Been A Coward Baby.
PM: Some time later yet, we've fetched up at a popular indie club off Oxford Street. This is the end of the line, a place about as debauched as the Little Rupert Bear mini-celebrities who feign fear at passing cameras, trying to make sure that the man in The Maker hat sees it all. But I'm finished with muck-raking for the evening. Before taking my leave, I ask Richard, a married man, what he'd have done if I'd taken him up on his offer.
"I'd have run a mile." Such nice lads. Vices and all.